Let $G$ be a commutative group (assume whatever you want on $G$ if needed. I am mainly interested in $G = \mathbb{Z}/n\mathbb{Z}$).

Let $k$ be a fixed integer. Let $(a_1, \dots, a_{k^2})$ be a list of $k^2$ elements of $G$. I am interested in the following problem: Determine if there exist:

  • $(x_1, \dots, x_{k})$ a list of $k$ elements of $G$.
  • $(y_1, \dots, y_{k})$ a list of $k$ elements of $G$.
  • a bijection $\sigma: [1,k] \times [1,k] \rightarrow [1,k^2]$.
  • such that: for all $i,j=1 \dots k$, one has $x_i + y_j = a_{\sigma(i, j)}$.

My question is: has this problem been studied, and what do we know about it?

For example, I would like to know if this problem is NP-complete, or if there is an algorithm to solve the problem.

There is a similar question here, but it was asked a long time ago and didn't catch much attention.


1 Answer 1


This is a variant of so-called turnpike / beltway reconstruction problems. In the case of $G = \mathbb{Z}/n\mathbb{Z}$ it can be solved via cyclotomic factorization by noticing that $$\sum_{i=1}^{k^2} z^{a_i} \equiv \big( \sum_{i=1}^{k} z^{x_i}\big)\cdot \big( \sum_{i=1}^{k} z^{y_i}\big)\pmod{z^n-1}.$$

Alternatively, solution can be based on spectral convolution - by noticing that pairwise differences of $x$'s as well as pairwise differences of $y$'s must have large multiplicities (at least $k$ each) in the multiset of pairwise differences of $a$'s.


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